No man (or woman) is an island – and this statement can’t be any truer if you’re a designer or developer. Though paid/subscription services likeBasecampandZimbraare great, individuals strapped for cash have a ton of alternatives that provide similar (if not better) features.
In this article, you’ll find15 free tools to help you facilitate remote/web-based collaboration. Whether you need basic whiteboarding/brainstorming tools or fully-featured project management applications – you should be able to find a tool or two that’s worth checking out.
Google Docsis an excellent application for collaboration. You can share documents and spreadsheets and collaborate with your team/clients in real-time. Being a browser-based application – the requirements to get up and running is very minimal. Storing your work online means they’re readily available anywhere with an internet connection. Check out theuser examples of Google Docsto gain some ideas on how to use Google Docs.
Stixyis a flexible, online “bulletin board”/drawing board. There’s little structure and it’s up to you how you want to use it, so it’s a great whiteboarding application. One of the useful ways to use Stixy ismocking up or wireframing web pages– your team member or clients can then go in and modify the design or post notes on particular aspects of the design.
Project2Manageis a fully-featured, free, hosted solution for project management and collaboration (similar to Basecamp). You can set up different roles and permissions to limit what each team members see, write in yourmilestonesto show everyone your goals, and be able to manage unlimited projects.
bubbl.usis a free, web-based application for collaborative brainstorming. You can create beautiful mind maps that you can share with team members. You can save, email, and print your mind maps or even embed them directly onto a web page.
ProjectPieris a self-hosted, open-source, PHP-based project management application. Manage your tasks, team members, and projects under one interface. The interface is very simple and lacks the “whiz-bang” features of other solutions, but its does project management and collaboration quite well. If you need more convincing, read the10 reasons for using ProjectPierstraight from the creators.
Twiddlatouts itself as a free, web-based meeting playground. Twiddla is an exceptional, no-hassle whiteboard solution for collaborating online. You can browse websites and draw on them, share files, and chat with your team. There’s even an “audio” option so you can communicate verbally (great for people who don’t draw well). Whether you’re critiquing a design or surfing the web for design inspiration, you’ll definitely find a use for Twiddla.
Wetpaintis a freeform collaboration application that brings in features from wikis, blogs, forums, and social networks. Because it’s simple to use and requires no technical expertise, it’s an excellent platform for generating content from different sources which you can use “as-is” or on your website.
If you’ve been a web worker for a significant period of time, there’s little chance thatSkypehas evaded you. In case you haven’t heard of it, Skype is an application that allows you to make telephone calls over the internet (the technology is calledVoice over Internet Protocol– or VoIP). You can make free calls to other Skype users and toll-free numbers, and even landlines/cell phones for a small fee. Aside from its VoIP feature, there are also built-in features for instant messaging (IM), video conferencing, and file sharing.
Thinkatureis an excellent, free web collaboration tool. You’re given a workspace to help you visually communicate via chat, drawing, or grabbing content from around the web. Its flexibility allows you to dictate how you want to use it.
If you want to manage projects using a desktop application to conduct your remote/web-based collaboration, check outSpicebird– a robust, open-source platform for all your collaboration requirements. It has a built-in instant messaging chat system, a group calendar, an address book to place your team’s contact information, and much more. View thevideo demonstrationto get a feel for what Spicebird is all about.
Mindquarry DOis an open-source collaboration application written in Java (J2EE). They’ve discontinued the Mindquarry GO which used to be an online version of Mindquarry, but Mindquarry DO is still available for download. Check out therequirements specificationsto make sure your server has what it needs to run Mindquarry.
Vyewis a web-based conferencing application that’s free to use for up to 20 participants. You can share your desktops, use the built-in screen capture tool to save sessions, customize your Vyew by adding your company logo, utilize useful plug-ins like DiagramVyew to create diagrams to share with everyone, and much more.
Writeboardby 37 Signals is a simple, web-based collaborative writing solution that’s free and easy to use. You start by creating your own Writeboard, invite your team members (if you want to collaborate), and then just start writing. People can see updates, edits, and changes in real-time. You can save, track revisions, create versions, and roll back to previous versions of your Writeboard.
What’s your web-based collaboration tool?
Is your free project collaboration tool/app not on the list? Share it with us and tell us why we should check it out in the comments!